Even though the ink on the FY17 budget is still drying, did you know that next fiscal year’s budget is already being put in place?  There is a common misconception that budgets aren’t decided until the spring when the legislature and Governor haggle over the appropriation bills. Quite the opposite: The foundation for next year’s budget is being decided right now.

There is a common misconception that the state budget doesn’t matter until legislative session when lawmakers and the governor work behind closed doors to pass the appropriations bills. Budget negotiations are certainly critical and must be monitored closely.

What’s Going on Right Now

But, while you are reading this post, leadership at state agencies are having robust internal discussions on what their budget and policy priorities for FY2018 ought to be. Once these priorities are identified, each agency will develop its budget request to submit to the Governor’s Office in early September. Other policy priorities (read: those that have no dollar appropriation) will be submitted to the Governor’s Office shortly thereafter.

Throughout the fall, budget analysts and policy advisors in the Governor’s Office will work with agency leadership, asking questions about the impact on the agency if certain programs do not receive the full funding request. By November, the Governor’s Office will have prioritized all of the agency requests and will finalize the budget recommendations for the governor’s approval. As a result, the executive budget should be buttoned up by mid-December. Once closed, it is very difficult to get anything added.

Why is this Timeline Important to you?

If you are a vendor that hopes to have agency funding to purchase a product or service, the agency is making that decision right now. Essentially, the agency is putting together its shopping list of all the items it wants the governor to approve. The more expensive the opportunity, the more critical that the agency places the opportunity at the top of its list.

Similarly, if you have legislation that will impact a state agency or the people it serves and you want leadership buy-in, now is the time to meet with agency leadership and make your case for why your legislation should become an agency priority for FY2018. Waiting can mean the difference between an agency director testifying to the Legislature in support of your legislation or opposing it.

And, if you miss the opportunity to influence a state agency’s priority list this fall, don’t give up.  It’s important to maintain ongoing relationships with the state agency leadership throughout the year. We’ve seen major projects get funded that were never mentioned in an agency budget, and policy ideas arise during legislative session.

If you would like assistance with developing your FY2018 state agency or legislative strategy or just want to brainstorm, please connect with us. With our experience in the legislature, executive agency leadership, Governor’s Office and procurement, Traversant Group is optimally situated to help you succeed.

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